SBTS chapel live blog: Russell D. Moore — 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:13

Communications Staff — August 27, 2009

Preacher: Russell D. Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary.

Text/title: 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:13 — “God is not a beggar? Why your ministry must become more pathetic before it can become less pathetic.”

I heard a speaker who once said, “God is not a beggar and neither am I” and I liked it.

But as I come to this text, I realize that in some ways that pastor was wrong and so am I.

Paul writes to this church in Corinth in some ways defending himself, but in some ways defending his mission. His mission is a mission of reconciliation. Paul was given a message of reconciliation that is to be taken to all of the world, to all the nations.

Paul brought his message with passion, with a kind of throbbing energy that too often is absent from our own ministries.

We live in the generations that are the third, fourth and possibly fifth generations of the Pentecostal movement. And our response is sometimes to retreat into a haughty rationalism with all the sturdiness of a skeleton with about as much warmth or to treat into a breezy, warm moralism. That is not what we have been given.

Paul is saying that it is not just about what we think and choose, but what we feel.

If we hear the Gospel the way we have received it we will hear a God who begs. Not a God who begs as a weakling, but as a sovereign, majestic Creator who loves.

Ministers of reconciliation

When Paul writes about the Gospel, the ministry of reconciliation, there is a sense of awe and wonder. In Christ, everyone is a new creation. The longings that we all have in our heart for a new creation, come to a beginning when we are found in Christ.

We have been handed as messengers this message of reconciliation and we are called to pass it on to others.

As we lead Awana children into a classroom or sit down to parse Greek verbs, I wonder if we realize: it is all true. It is not just a set of things we have been given. It is all true.

When Paul is struck with wonder and joy, God is speaking through Him.

In 2 Cor 5:16, Paul speaks of no longer regarding Christ according to the flesh. We are to do the same with Christ and with everyone that we meet. We are to view everyone in light of the Gospel, through the lens of the Gospel.

We do not regard one another according to the flesh: we see what God sees through the Gospel. We see the beginnings of a new creation in all the world.

I wonder how different our preaching would be, how much more powerful our mission would be, if we would stop considering those who the world thinks is powerful: the football starts and beauty queen, if we would look at each other and see Jesus Christ in each other and evaluate the world the way Christ sees the world.

I wonder what would happen if we had a sense of exuberance when we encountered the mentally retarded person in our congregation. I wonder what would happen if we were able to see the redemption of Christ in the horrible obese man who comes and asks awkward questions after the message. I wonder if we would understand better the mystery and wonder of what Paul is talking about when he says we are given the message of reconciliation.

Ambassadors of Christ

Whatever an ambassador says, he is speaking on behalf of the one who sent him. The hearers don’t have to wonder who sent the message: it is already clear. And we are Christ’s ambassadors.

Jesus is speaking through you. Jesus is present with you. Judgment day is now hanging over the Awana room, or congregation or street corner.

When you are speaking the Gospel message, you are begging for God as if Jesus was there pleading with the people in that room.

You say, “I can’t understand a sovereign God as a beggar.” You can’t understand a crucified world emperor either: that is exactly the point.

Do you in your ministries, or as you are preparing for your ministries, feel the gravity of begging. If someone were holding your child up against a wall with a gun, you would drop to your knees and plead, “please! don’t do that.”

What you have been called to as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to speak with all of the sovereign authority of Jesus Himself, which He has given to His church, to a lost world, “please … don’t do that.”

Do you feel the gravity of the Gospel?

The affection of Christ

Paul sees people through the Spirit the way that Jesus sees them through the Spirit in a way that he gives no offense to them, except for the offense of the Gospel.

Pau said I am willing for you to say anything about me that you want to say, for he knows that God knows is true and he speaks to them the Gospel, saying “open your hearts.” Does your Gospel ministry look that way?

The message of the Gospel is meant to create in you an affection for people that is built not on friendships or already-existing relationships, but on the Gospel. Such affection comes from the Holy Spirit, a Spirit who is not a thing, but a person.

If you really glimpse the majesty of God, if you really love the Gospel and really feel the weight of judgment and hell, then you will plead, implore and beg.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

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